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445 U.S.

463
100 S.Ct. 1244
63 L.Ed.2d 537

UNITED STATES, Petitioner,


v.
Keith CREWS.
No. 78-777.
Argued Oct. 31, 1979.
Decided March 25, 1980.

Syllabus
Immediately after being assaulted and robbed at gunpoint, the victim
notified the police and gave them a full description of her assailant.
Several days later, respondent, who matched the suspect's description, was
seen by the police around the scene of the crime. After an attempt to
photograph him proved unsuccessful, respondent was taken into custody,
ostensibly as a suspected truant from school, and was detained at police
headquarters, where he was briefly questioned, photographed, and then
released. Thereafter, the victim identified respondent's photograph as that
of her assailant. Respondent was again taken into custody and at a courtordered lineup was identified by the victim. Respondent was then indicted
for armed robbery and other offenses. On respondent's pretrial motion to
suppress all identification testimony, the trial court found that respondent's
initial detention at the police station constituted an arrest without probable
cause and accordingly ruled that the products of that arrestthe
photographic and lineup identificationscould not be introduced at trial,
but further held that the victim's ability to identify respondent in court was
based upon independent recollection untainted by the intervening
identifications and that therefore such testimony was admissible. At trial,
the victim once more identified respondent as her assailant, and
respondent was convicted of armed robbery. The District of Columbia
Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the in-court identification
testimony should have been excluded as a product of the violation of
respondent's Fourth Amendment rights.
Held : The judgment is reversed. Pp. 470-477; 477; 477-479.

D.C.App., 389 A.2d 277, reversed.


Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to
Parts I, II-A, II-B, and II-C, concluding that:

The in-court identification need not be suppressed as the fruit of respondent's


concededly unlawful arrest but is admissible because the police's knowledge of
respondent's identity and the victim's independent recollections of him both
antedated the unlawful arrest and were thus untainted by the constitutional
violation. Pp. 470-474, 477.

(a) The victim's presence in the courtroom at respondent's trial was not the
product of any police misconduct. Her identity was known long before there
was any official misconduct, and her presence in court was thus not traceable to
any Fourth Amendment violation. Pp. 471-472.

(b) Nor did the illegal arrest infect the victim's ability to give accurate
identification testimony. At trial, she merely retrieved her mnemonic
representation of the assailant formed at the time of the crime, compared it to
the figure of respondent in the courtroom, and positively identified him as the
robber. Pp. 472-473.

(c) Insofar as respondent challenges his own presence at trial, he cannot claim
immunity from prosecution simply because his appearance in court was
precipitated by an unlawful arrest. Respondent is not himself a suppressible
"fruit," and the illegality of his detention cannot deprive the Government of the
opportunity to prove his guilt through the introduction of evidence wholly
untainted by the police misconduct. P. 474.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN, joined by Mr. Justice STEWART and Mr. Justice
STEVENS, concluded in Part II-D that the Court need not decide whether
respondent's person should be considered evidence and therefore a possible
"fruit" of police misconduct, since the Fourth Amendment violation in question
yielded nothing of evidentiary value that the police did not already have.
Respondent's unlawful arrest served merely to link together two extant
ingredients in his identification. While the exclusionary rule enjoins the
Government from benefiting from evidence it has unlawfully obtained, it does
not reach backward to taint information that was in official hands prior to any
illegality. Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676,
distinguished. Pp. 474-477.

Andrew L. Frey, Washington, D. C., for petitioner.

W. Gary Kohlman, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IID.

We are called upon to decide whether in the circumstances of this case an incourt identification of the accused by the victim of a crime should be
suppressed as the fruit of the defendant's unlawful arrest.

10

* On the morning of January 3, 1974, a woman was accosted and robbed at


gunpoint by a young man in the women's restroom on the grounds of the
Washington Monument. Her assailant, peering at her through a 4-inch crack
between the wall and the door of the stall she occupied, asked for $10 and
demanded that he be let into the stall. When the woman refused, the robber
pointed a pistol over the top of the door and repeated his ultimatum. The victim
then surrendered the money, but the youth demanded an additional $10. When
the woman opened her purse and showed her assailant that she had no more
cash, he gained entry to her stall and made sexual advances upon her. She tried
to resist and pleaded with him to leave. He eventually did, warning his victim
that he would shoot her if she did not wait at least 20 minutes before following
him out of the restroom. The woman complied, and upon leaving the restroom
20 minutes later, immediately reported the incident to the police.

11

On January 6, two other women were assaulted and robbed in a similar episode
in the same restroom. A young man threatened the women with a broken bottle,
forced them to hand over $20, and then departed, again cautioning his victims
not to leave for 20 minutes. The description of the robber given to the police by
these women matched that given by the first victim: All three described their
assailant as a young black male, 15-18 years old, approximately 5'5" to 5'8" tall,
slender in build, with a very dark complexion and smooth skin.

12

Three days later, on January 9, Officer David Rayfield of the United States Park
Police observed respondent in the area of the Washington Monument
concession stand and restrooms. Aware of the robberies of the previous week
and noting respondent's resemblance to the police "lookout" that described the
perpetrator, the officer and his partner approached respondent.1 Respondent
gave the officers his name and said that he was 16 years old. When asked why
he was not in school, respondent replied that he had just "walked away from
school."2 The officers informed respondent of his likeness to the suspect's

description, but there was no further questioning about those events.


Respondent was allowed to leave, and the officers watched as he entered the
nearby restrooms.
13

While respondent was still inside, Officer Rayfield saw and spoke to James
Dickens, a tour guide who had previously reported having seen a young man
hanging around the area of the Monument on the day of the January 3d
robbery. In response to the officer's request to observe respondent as he left the
restroom, Dickens tentatively identified him as the individual he had seen on
the day of the robbery.

14

On the basis of this additional information, the officers again approached


respondent and detained him. Detective Earl Ore, the investigator assigned to
the robberies, was immediately summoned. Upon his arrival some 10 or 15
minutes later, Detective Ore attempted to take a Polaroid photograph of
respondent, but the inclement weather conditions frustrated his several efforts
to produce a picture suitable for display to the robbery victims. Respondent was
therefore taken into custody, ostensibly because he was a suspected truant. He
was then transported to Park Police headquarters, where the police briefly
questioned him, obtained the desired photograph, telephoned his school, and
released him. Respondent was never formally arrested or charged with any
offense, and his detention at the station lasted no more than an hour.

15

On the following day, January 10, the police showed the victim of the first
robbery an array of eight photographs, including one of respondent. Although
she had previously viewed over 100 pictures of possible suspects without
identifying any of them as her assailant, she immediately selected respondent's
photograph as that of the man who had robbed her. On January 13, one of the
other victims made a similar identification.3 Respondent was again taken into
custody, and at a court-ordered lineup held on January 21, he was positively
identified by the two women who had made the photographic identifications.

16

The grand jury returned an indictment against respondent on February 22, 1974,
charging him with two counts of armed robbery, two counts of robbery, one
count of attempted armed robbery, and three counts of assault with a dangerous
weapon.4 Respondent filed a pretrial motion to suppress all identification
testimony, contending that his detention on the truancy charges had been
merely a pretext to allow the police to obtain evidence for the robbery
investigation. After hearing extensive testimony from the three victims, the
police officers, and respondent, the trial court found that the respondent's
detention at Park Police headquarters on January 9 constituted an arrest without
probable cause.5 Accordingly, the court ruled that the products of that arrest

the photographic and lineup identificationscould not be introduced at trial.


But the judge concluded that the victims' ability to identify respondent in court
was based upon independent recollection untainted by the intervening
identifications, and therefore held such testimony admissible. At trial, all three
victims identified respondent as their assailant. On April 23, the jury convicted
him of armed robbery of the first victim, but returned verdicts of not guilty on
all other charges.6 Respondent was sentenced to four years' probation under the
Federal Youth Corrections Act, 18 U.S.C. 5010(a).
17

On appeal, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, reversed


respondent's conviction and ordered the suppression of the first robbery
victim's in-court identification.7 389 A.2d 277 (1978). The court viewed its
decision to be a wholly conventional application of the familiar "fruit of the
poisonous tree" doctrine. See Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct.
407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963); Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S.
385, 40 S.Ct. 182, 64 L.Ed. 319 (1920). After upholding the trial court's finding
that respondent was detained without probable causea determination that is
not challenged in this Court8 the Court of Appeals turned to consideration of
what evidentiary consequences ought to flow from that Fourth Amendment
violation. In deciding whether the in-court identification should have been
suppressed, the court observed that the analysis must focus on whether the
evidence was obtained by official "exploitation" of the "primary illegality"
within the meaning of Wong Sun, supra,9 and that the principal issue was
whether the unlawful police behavior bore a causal relationship to the
acquisition of the challenged testimony. The court answered that question in the
affirmative, reasoning that but for respondent's unlawful arrest, the police
would not have obtained the photograph that led to his subsequent
identification by the complaining witnesses and, ultimately, prosecution of the
case. 10 Satisfied that the in-court identification was thus at least indirectly the
product of official misconduct, the court then considered whether any of three
commonly advanced exceptions to the exclusionary rulethe "independent
source," "inevitable discovery," or "attenuation" doctrines 11nonetheless
justified its admission. Finding these exceptions inapplicable, the Court of
Appeals concluded that the in-court identification testimony should have been
excluded as a product of the violation of respondent's Fourth Amendment
rights. We granted certiorari. 440 U.S. 907, 99 S.Ct. 1213, 59 L.Ed.2d 454
(1979). We reverse.

II
18

Wong Sun, supra, articulated the guiding principle for determining whether
evidence derivatively obtained from a violation of the Fourth Amendment is

admissible against the accused at trial: "The exclusionary prohibition extends as


well to the indirect as the direct products of such invasions." 371 U.S., at 484,
83 S.Ct. at 416. See Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, supra; Weeks v.
United States, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652 (1914). As subsequent
cases have confirmed, the exclusionary sanction applies to any "fruits" of a
constitutional violationwhether such evidence be tangible, physical material
actually seized in an illegal search,12 items observed or words overheard in the
course of the unlawful activity,13 or confessions or statements of the accused
obtained during an illegal arrest and detention.14
19

In the typical "fruit of the poisonous tree" case, however, the challenged
evidence was acquired by the police after some initial Fourth Amendment
violation, and the question before the court is whether the chain of causation
proceeding from the unlawful conduct has become so attenuated or has been
interrupted by some intervening circumstance so as to remove the "taint"
imposed upon that evidence by the original illegality. Thus most cases begin
with the premise that the challenged evidence is in some sense the product of
illegal governmental activity. It is the Court of Appeals' application of that
premise to the facts of this case that we find erroneous.

20

A victim's in-court identification of the accused has three distinct elements.


First, the victim is present at trial to testify as to what transpired between her
and the offender, and to identify the defendant as the culprit. Second, the victim
possesses knowledge of and the ability to reconstruct the prior criminal
occurrence and to identify the defendant from her observations of him at the
time of the crime. And third, the defendant is also physically present in the
courtroom, so that the victim can observe him and compare his appearance to
that of the offender. In the present case, it is our conclusion that none of these
three elements "has been come at by exploitation" of the violation of the
defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. Wong Sun, supra, 371 U.S. at 488, 83
S.Ct., at 417.

A.
21

In this case, the robbery victim's presence in the courtroom at respondent's trial
was surely not the product of any police misconduct. She had notified the
authorities immediately after the attack and had given them a full description of
her assailant. The very next day, she went to the police station to view
photographs of possible suspects, and she voluntarily assisted the police in their
investigation at all times. Thus this is not a case in which the witness' identity
was discovered or her cooperation secured only as a result of an unlawful
search or arrest of the accused.15 Here the victim's identity was known long

before there was any official misconduct, and her presence in court is thus not
traceable to any Fourth Amendment violation.
B
22

Nor did the illegal arrest infect the victim's ability to give accurate
identification testimony. Based upon her observations at the time of the
robbery, the victim constructed a mental image of her assailant. At trial, she
retrieved this mnemonic representation, compared it to the figure of the
defendant, and positively identified him as the robber.16 No part of this process
was affected by respondent's illegal arrest. In the language of the "time-worn
metaphor" of the poisonous tree, Harrison v. United States, 392 U.S. 219, 222,
88 S.Ct. 2008, 2010, 20 L.Ed.2d 1047 (1968), the toxin in this case was
injected only after the evidentiary bud had blossomed; the fruit served at trial
was not poisoned.

23

This is not to say that the intervening photographic and lineup identifications
both of which are conceded to be suppressible fruits of the Fourth Amendment
violationcould not under some circumstances affect the reliability of the incourt identification and render it inadmissible as well. Indeed, given the
vagaries of human memory and the inherent suggestibility of many
identification procedures,17 just the opposite may be true. But in the present
case the trial court expressly found that the witness' courtroom identification
rested on an independent recollection of her initial encounter with the assailant,
uninfluenced by the pretrial identifications, and this determination finds ample
support in the record.18 In short, the victim's capacity to identify her assailant in
court neither resulted from nor was biased by the unlawful police conduct
committed long after she had developed that capacity.19

C
24

Insofar as respondent challenges his own presence at trial, he cannot claim


immunity from prosecution simply because his appearance in court was
precipitated by an unlawful arrest. An illegal arrest, without more, has never
been viewed as a bar to subsequent prosecution, nor as a defense to a valid
conviction. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119, 95 S.Ct. 854, 865, 43 L.Ed.2d
54 (1975); Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519, 72 S.Ct. 509, 96 L.Ed. 541 (1952);
Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436, 7 S.Ct. 225, 30 L.Ed. 421 (1886).20 The
exclusionary principle of Wong Sun and Silverthorne Lumber Co. delimits what
proof the Government may offer against the accused at trial, closing the
courtroom door to evidence secured by official lawlessness. Respondent is not
himself a suppressible "fruit," and the illegality of his detention cannot deprive

the Government of the opportunity to prove his guilt through the introduction
of evidence wholly untainted by the police misconduct.
D*
25

Respondent argues, however, that in one respect his corpus is itself a species of
"evidence." When the victim singles out respondent and declares, "That's the
man who robbed me," his physiognomy becomes something of evidentiary
value, much like a photograph showing respondent at the scene of the crime.21
And, as with the introduction of such a photograph, he contends that the crucial
inquiry for Fourth Amendment purposes is whether that evidence has become
available only as a result of official misconduct. We read the Court of Appeals'
opinion as essentially adopting this analysis to support its suppression order.
See 389 A.2d, at 285-287.

26

We need not decide whether respondent's person should be considered


evidence, and therefore a possible "fruit" of police misconduct. For in this case
the record plainly discloses that prior to his illegal arrest, the police both knew
respondent's identity and had some basis to suspect his involvement in the very
crimes with which he was charged. Moreover, before they approached
respondent, the police had already obtained access to the "evidence" that
implicated him in the robberies, i. e., the mnemonic representations of the
criminal retained by the victims and related to the police in the form of their
agreement upon his description. In short, the Fourth Amendment violation in
this case yielded nothing of evidentiary value that the police did not already
have in their grasp.22 Rather, respondent's unlawful arrest served merely to link
together two extant ingredients in his identification. The exclusionary rule
enjoins the Government from benefiting from evidence it has unlawfully
obtained; it does not reach backward to taint information that was in official
hands prior to any illegality.

27

Accordingly, this case is very different from one like Davis v. Mississippi, 394
U.S. 721, 89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676 (1969), in which the defendant's
identity and connection to the illicit activity were only first discovered through
an illegal arrest or search. In that case, the defendant's fingerprints were
ordered suppressed as the fruits of an unlawful detention. A woman had been
raped in her home, and during the next 10 days, the local police rounded up
scores of black youths, randomly stopping, interrogating, and fingerprinting
them. Davis' prints were discovered to match a set found at the scene of the
crime, and on that basis he was arrested and convicted. Had it not been for
Davis' illegal detention, however, his prints would not have been obtained and
he would never have become a suspect. Here, in contrast, the robbery

investigation had already focused on respondent, and the police had


independent reasonable grounds to suspect his culpability.
28

We find Bynum v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 368, 262 F.2d 465 (1958),
cited with approval in Davis, supra, 394 U.S., at 724, 89 S.Ct., at 1396, helpful
in our analysis as well. In Bynum, the defendant voluntarily came down to the
police station to look for his brother, who had been arrested earlier that day
while driving an auto sought in connection with a robbery. After telling one of
the officers that he owned the car, Bynum was arrested and fingerprinted.
Those prints were later found to match a set at the scene of the robbery, and
Bynum was convicted based in part on that evidence. The Court of Appeals
held that the police lacked probable cause at the time of Bynum's arrest, and it
ordered the prints suppressed as "something of evidentiary value which the
public authorities have caused an arrested person to yield to them during illegal
detention." 104 U.S.App.D.C., at 370, 262 F.2d, at 467. As this Court noted in
Davis, however, 394 U.S., at 725-726, n. 4, 89 S.Ct., at 1396-1397, n. 4,
Bynum was subsequently reindicted for the same offense, and the Government
on retrial introduced an older set of his fingerprints, taken from an FBI file, that
were in no way connected with his unlawful arrest. The Court of Appeals
affirmed that conviction, holding that the fingerprint identification made on the
basis of information already in the FBI's possession was not tainted by the
subsequent illegality and was therefore admissible. Bynum v. United States, 107
U.S.App.D.C. 109, 274 F.2d 767 (1960).

29

The parallels between Bynum and this case are apparent: The pretrial
identification obtained through use of the photograph taken during respondent's
illegal detention cannot be introduced; but the in-court identification is
admissible, even if respondent's argument be accepted, because the police's
knowledge of respondent's identity and the victim's independent recollections
of him both antedated the unlawful arrest and were thus untainted by the
constitutional violation. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is accordingly

30

Reversed.

31

Mr. Justice MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of this


case.

32

Mr. Justice POWELL, with whom Mr. Justice BLACKMUN joins, concurring
in part.

33

I join the Court's opinion except for Part II-D. I would reject explicitly, rather

than appear to leave open, the claim that a defendant's face can be a
suppressible fruit of an illegal arrest. I agree with Mr. Justice WHITE's view,
post, at 477-478, that this claim is foreclosed by the rationale of Frisbie v.
Collins, 342 U.S. 519, 72 S.Ct. 509, 96 L.Ed. 541 (1952), and Ker v. Illinois,
119 U.S. 436, 7 S.Ct. 225, 30 L.Ed. 421 (1886). Those cases establish that a
defendant properly may be brought into court for trial even though he was
arrested illegally. Thus, the only evidence at issue in this case is the robbery
victims' identification testimony. I agree with the Court that the victims'
testimony is not tainted.
34

Mr. Justice WHITE, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Mr. Justice
REHNQUIST join, concurring in the result.

35

The Court today holds that an in-court identification of the accused by the
victim of a crime should not be suppressed as the fruit of the defendant's
unlawful arrest. Although we are unanimous in reaching this result, Mr. Justice
BRENNAN's opinion reserves the question whether a defendant's face can ever
be considered evidence suppressible as the "fruit" of an illegal arrest. Because I
consider this question to be controlled by the rationale of Frisbie v. Collins, 342
U.S. 519, 72 S.Ct. 509, 96 L.Ed. 541 (1952), I write separately.

36

Respondent Crews was convicted after an in-court identification by the victim


whose own presence at trial, recollection, and identification the Court holds
were untainted by prior illegal conduct by the police. Under these
circumstances the manner in which the defendant's presence at trial was
obtained is irrelevant to the admissibility of the in-court identification. We held
in Frisbie v. Collins, supra, at 522, 72 S.Ct., at 511, "that the power of the court
to try a person for crime is not impaired by the fact that he had been brought
within the court's jurisdiction" unlawfully. A holding that a defendant's face can
be considered evidence suppressible for no reason other than that the
defendant's presence in the courtroom is the fruit of an illegal arrest would be
tantamount to holding that an illegal arrest effectively insulates one from
conviction for any crime where an in-court identification is essential. Such a
holding would be inconsistent with the underlying rationale of Frisbie from
which we have not retreated. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 485, 96 S.Ct. 3037,
3048, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976); Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119, 95 S.Ct.
854, 865, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (1975).

37

Although the presence of Crews in the courtroom would not have occurred but
for his arrest without probable cause, the in-court identification is held
admissible. As I understand Part II-D of Mr. Justice BRENNAN's opinion,
however, the in-court identification might have been inadmissible had there not

been some reason to suspect Crews of the offense at the time of his illegal
arrest. Such a rule excluding an otherwise untainted, in-court identification is
wholly unsupported by our previous decisions. Nor do I perceive a
constitutional basis for dispensing with probable cause but requiring reasonable
suspicion.
38

Assume that a person is arrested for crime X and that answers to questions put
to him without Miranda warnings implicate him in crime Y for which he is
later tried. The victim of crime Y identifies him in the courtroom; the
identification has an independent, untainted basis. I would not suppress such an
identification on the grounds that the police had no reason to suspect the
defendant of crime Y prior to their illegal questioning and that it is only
because of that questioning that he is present in the courtroom for trial. I would
reach the same result whether or not his arrest for crime X was without
probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

39

I agree that this case is very different from Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721,
89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676 (1969), but not for the reason given in my
Brother BRENNAN's opinion. In Davis we held that fingerprints obtained from
a defendant during an illegal detention had to be suppressed because they were
the direct product of the unlawful arrest. Here, however, the evidence ordered
suppressed was eyewitness testimony of the victim which was not the product
of respondent's arrest. The fact that respondent was present at trial and
therefore capable of being identified by the victim is merely the inevitable
result of the trial being held, which is permissible under Frisbie, despite
respondent's unlawful arrest. Suppression would be required in the Davis
situation, but not here, regardless of whether the respective arrests were made
without any reasonable suspicion or with something just short of probable
cause.

40

Because Mr. Justice BRENNAN leaves open the question whether a


defendant's face can be considered a suppressible fruit of an illegal arrest, a
question I think has already been sufficiently answered in Frisbie, I cannot join
his opinion, although I concur in the result.* I note that a majority of the Court
agrees that the rationale of Frisbie forecloses the claim that respondent's face
can be suppressible as a fruit of the unlawful arrest.

Officer Rayfield testified that his suspicions were further aroused both by
respondent's presence on the almost deserted park grounds and by his
apparently aimless meanderings around the restroom and concessions area.

Tr. 52. References are to the transcript of the suppression hearing and trial held
on April 22 and 23, 1974, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The third victim did not review the photographic array, nor did she attend the
subsequent lineup.

See D.C.Code 22-502, 22-2901, and 22-3202 (1973).

The suppression hearing produced conflicting testimony as to the reasons for


the attempt to photograph respondent. Officer Rayfield asserted that respondent
was processed as a routine juvenile truant, a procedure that involves
photographing the suspect and then calling his school and home to determine
whether he is in fact truant. Tr. 53-54. Rayfield did acknowledge, however, that
he had some suspicion that respondent was the robber described in the police
description. Id., at 55, 57. Similarly, Detective Ore, while maintaining that
respondent was apprehended and taken down to Park Police headquarters as a
suspected truant, id., at 61, 63, admitted that his intent in trying to photograph
him was to obtain a picture that could be shown to the complaining witnesses.
Id., at 59.
The Government does not now attempt to justify respondent's detention on the
truancy charge, nor did it raise that argument in the court below. The Court of
Appeals found that the procedures followed in respondent's case did not
conform to the typical truancy practices described by the police and that the
officers never even superficially pursued the truancy matter. By the same
token, the court expressly disavowed the existence of a "sham" or "pretext"
arrest, and it analyzed respondent's apprehension as a traditional arrest for
armed robbery and assault without probable cause. 389 A.2d 277, 299-300, n.
32 (D.C.1978).

Because respondent was acquitted of all charges in connection with the


robberies of January 6, the only issue raised on his appeal was the admissibility
of the first robbery victim's in-court identification.

On February 16, 1977, a division of the Court of Appeals originally affirmed


respondent's conviction, 369 A.2d 1063. Three months later, however, the full
court granted respondent's motion for rehearing and vacated its earlier
judgment. Record 356.

See Brief for United States 5, n. 4.

"We need not hold that all evidence is 'fruit of the poisonous tree' simply
because it would not have come to light but for the illegal actions of the police.
Rather, the more apt question in such a case is 'whether, granting establishment

of the primary illegality, the evidence to which instant objection is made has
been come at by exploitation of that illegality or instead by means sufficiently
distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint.' Maguire, Evidence of Guilt,
221 (1959)." Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S., at 487-488, 83 S.Ct., at 417.
10

"[T]he unlawful arrest produced photographs which were shown to the


complaining witnesses who, as a result, identified [respondent]; this resulted in
his reapprehension, which yielded a court-ordered lineup identification and,
eventually, in-court identification testimony during prosecution of the case."
389 A.2d, at 289.

11

See Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338, 341, 60 S.Ct. 266, 268, 84 L.Ed.
307 (1939) (attenuation); Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S.
385, 392, 40 S.Ct. 182, 183, 64 L.Ed. 319 (1920) (independent source); United
States ex rel. Owens v. Twomey, 508 F.2d 858, 865 (CA 7 1974) (inevitable
discovery).

12

E. g., Whiteley v. Warden, 401 U.S. 560, 91 S.Ct. 1031, 28 L.Ed.2d 306 (1971);
Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 20 L.Ed.2d 917 (1968); Beck
v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 85 S.Ct. 223, 13 L.Ed.2d 142 (1964).

13

E. g., United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505, 94 S.Ct. 1820, 40 L.Ed.2d 341
(1974); see Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 81 S.Ct. 679, 5 L.Ed.2d
734 (1961); McGinnis v. United States, 227 F.2d 598 (CA1 1955).

14

E. g., Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 99 S.Ct. 2248, 60 L.Ed.2d 824
(1979); Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 95 S.Ct. 2254, 45 L.Ed.2d 416 (1975).

15

See generally Ruffin, Out on a Limb of the Poisonous Tree: The Tainted
Witness, 15 UCLA L.Rev. 32 (1967).

16

At oral argument, the Government compared the witness' mental image to an


undeveloped photograph of the robber that is given to the police immediately
after the crime, but which becomes visible only at the trial. Tr. of Oral Arg. 1112. Although this analogy may not comport precisely with current
psychological theories of perception, see, e. g., Buckout, Eyewitness
Testimony, Scientific American 23 (Dec. 1974), it is apt for purposes of
analysis.

17

See, e. g., P. Wall, Eye-Witness Identification in Criminal Cases 40-64 (1965);


Note, Did Your Eyes Deceive You? Expert Psychological Testimony on the
Unreliability of Eyewitness Identification, 29 Stan.L.Rev. 969, 974-989 (1977).

18

United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149 (1967),

enumerated several factors for consideration in applying the "independent


origins" test. Id., at 241, 87 S.Ct., at 1939. Cf. Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S.
98, 97 S.Ct. 2243, 53 L.Ed.2d 140 (1977); Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 93
S.Ct. 375, 34 L.Ed.2d 401 (1972). We attach particular significance to the
following circumstances which support the trial court's determination in this
case: the victim viewed her assailant at close range for a period of 5-10 minutes
under excellent lighting conditions and with no distractions, Tr. 4, 7, 111;
respondent closely matched the description given by the victim immediately
after the robbery, id., at 52, 59; the victim failed to identify anyone other than
respondent, id., at 8, but twice selected respondent without hesitation in
nonsuggestive pretrial identification procedures, id., at 9-11; and only a week
had passed between the victim's initial observation of respondent and her first
identification of him, id., at 8-9.
Our reliance on the fact that the witness twice identified respondent in out-ofcourt confrontations is not intended to assign any independent evidentiary value
to those identifications for to do so would undermine the exclusionary rule's
objectives in denying the Government the benefit of any evidence wrongfully
obtained. Rather, the accurate pretrial identifications assume significance only
to the extent that they indicate that the witness' ability to identify respondent
antedated any police misconduct, and hence that her in-court identification had
an "independent source."
19

Respondent contends that the "independent source" test of United States v.


Wade, supra, and Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d
1199 (1967), although derived from an identical formulation in Wong Sun, see
388 U.S., at 241, 87 S.Ct., at 1939, seeks only to determine whether the incourt identification is sufficiently reliable to satisfy due process, and is thus
inapplicable in the context of this Fourth Amendment violation. We agree that a
satisfactory resolution of the reliability issue does not provide a complete
answer to the considerations underlying Wong Sun, but note only that in the
present case both concerns are met.

This part is joined only by Mr. Justice STEWART and Mr. Justice STEVENS.

20

Cf. United States v. Blue, 384 U.S. 251, 255, 86 S.Ct. 1416, 1419, 16 L.Ed.2d
510 (1966):
"Our numerous precedents ordering the exclusion of such illegally obtained
evidence assume implicitly that the remedy does not extend to barring the
prosecution altogether. So drastic a step might advance marginally some of the
ends served by exclusionary rules, but it would also increase to an intolerable
degree interference with the public interest in having the guilty brought to

book."
In some cases, of course, prosecution may effectively be foreclosed by the
absence of the challenged evidence. But this contemplated consequence is the
product of the exclusion of specific evidence tainted by the Fourth Amendment
violation and is not the result of a complete bar to prosecution.
21

Cf. Stevenson v. Mathews, 529 F.2d 61, 63 (CA7 1976).

22

Thus we are not called upon in this case to hypothesize about whether routine
investigatory procedures would eventually have led the police to discover
respondent's culpability. His involvement in the robberies was already
suspected, and no new evidence was acquired through the violation of his
Fourth Amendment rights.

For the same reason I cannot join the analysis at the beginning of Part II of the
Court's opinion because it implies that a courtroom identification would be
inadmissible if the defendant's physical presence had resulted from exploitation
of a violation of the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights.